Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Kids gardening - Vegepod

I haven't had much luck growing good vegies. This year has been particularly pathetic, and I could even get my basil to grow (though a lack of watering and late planting into the ground may have had a lot to do with that).  Last year's poor beans had been plagued by bugs, my snow peas this year met an early demise from the extreme temperatures, and I only ever got one okra from my plants.  The cucumbers from a few years ago were the best crop I had.  and a colleague of mine suggested a Vegepod.

From the website:
...they provide superior growth-rates due to the complete growing system. Unlike traditional raised garden beds the Vegepods give you complete control over the soil which means any nutrients you add are utilised by your plants only. The self-watering reservoir holds up to 64 litres providing all the moisture your plants require – from below!
The unique greenhouse cover provides a micro-climate that promotes rapid growth. The cover has a mist-spray watering system and the hinged cover provides effortless access to all plants – even mature ones. Tired of the possums and wildlife eating your crops before you do? The covers protect your plants from animals, pests and bugs and damaging weather.
I was skeptical, it sounded too good to be true. Was it really that easy?  I read a couple of reviews - one on Vegie Smugglers and another on Going Grey and Slightly Green - and both said great things. Here is a pic of what Vegie Smugglers grew in 5 weeks.

Inspiring right? So I went and bought a small one from the local pet and garden store, and put it together.  The cover is actually quite hard to assemble and trying to get the plastic on made me crack the connecting joins so I hope they don't fall apart after lots of exposure to the sun. My set was also missing the clips to connect the cover into a flip top, so I emailed Vegepod and Matt said he would send me out some clips.

I set it up in the backyard on the grass, and I put some Bok Choy on the right and planted some carrots on the left and here they are.

A few weeks later they were looking nice and fat but unfortunately caterpillars and slugs were attacking them!  There is enough gap underneath the cover to allow the ratbag slugs in, so they have been climbing up my container in droves.

The carrots were coming up, and were so far safe from the slugs, but the slugs were coming in force to the bok choy side and so I had to put baits out to get rid of them. I also did a beer trap which wasn't very effective because I put it on the wrong side but I moved it and caught 2 slugs as well as 6 others that were crawling all over the place.  I had also put baits out so perhaps the slugs were disoriented because of the bait.

Here they are at about 2 weeks.  You can see my little beer trap on the right there.

After a month they were getting nice and almost ready to eat! And 2 weeks after that I decided to plant some spinach and lettuces between the carrots and the bok choy.  I had picked a couple of the outer leaves for the kids to eat and they seemed to be excited to be eating home grown vegies. I planted a few seeds of coriander next to the carrots for fun.

The lettuce was quite slow to germinate (about 2 weeks) but the spinach popped up within a week. The lettuce is next to the carrots and the spinach next to the Bok Choy. By now there were plenty of leaves to harvest and we were having a regular meal at least once a week, sometimes twice.

And this is them last week (first week of August) .  I had put some Blood and Bone Fertilizer to try and boost my lettuces and it seemed to do the trick.  Unfortunately the carrots also seem to have taken to sprouting more leaves because of the fertilizer which is not ideal because I want them to grow more root (carrot).

This week I noticed that the Bok Choy is starting to flower. I was going to let one of them seed and cut the rest of the flowers back so I can keep harvesting leaves.  Maybe I can plant some more Bok Choy to keep the supply going!

The best thing is that the kids love to come outside to water the plants and pick the vegies, and they are also very keen to eat them. They are so enthusiastic about eating the vegetables that are grown at home and cared for by them that I would highly recommend vegie growing as an incentive for kids to eat their vegetables!

Carrots aren't ready to harvest yet - and it was hard for me to figure out when they would be ready, but apparently they are ready when you see the orange tops pushing out of the ground.  Should take 90 days or so, I've heard. I had a little dig to see if any root was forming but nothing yet....